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UPDATE: Spatsum Creek fire - highway 97C open again

Helicopters drop water and retardant on the Spatsum Creek wildfire south of Ashcroft Monday morning.
May 13, 2013 - 2:50 PM

UPDATE: 5:55 p.m. May 13, 2013

Thompson Nicola Regional District has rescinded the evacuation order this evening. All orders have reverted back to evacuation alerts and all properties within the alert area must be ready to evacuate if conditions change.

UPDATE: 3:14 p.m. May 13, 2013

Highway 97C has reopened between Highland Valley Road overpass and Ashcroft.

Spokesperson for Thompson Nicola Regional District, Mike Garrett, says many people previously under an evacuation order are free to go home but are still under an evacuation alert and have to be ready to leave at a moments notice. TNRD mapping has identified up to 30 other properties affected by the new evacuation, Garrett says, though RCMP have told him they evacuated 12-14 homes under that order.

UPDATE: 2:43 p.m. May 13, 2013

Thompson-Nicola Regional District has distributed an update of the evacuation notice for the area south of Ashcroft.

The new Evacuation Order, issued at 1:30 p.m., Monday, May 13, now encompasses the area from the intersection of Highway 97C and Barnes Lake Road, including all properties on Barnes Lake Road, YD Ranch Road and Studhorse Road.

1:42 p.m. May 13, 2013

Now at 1,400 hectares, the Spatsum Creek fire that began April 27 has forced an estimated 125 people from their homes as the fire heads north towards Ashcroft.

Ashcroft residents have been dealing with wind and smoke for the past week as the fire grew from 245 to 1,400 hectares and moved closer to the village.

Deb, a downtown resident and an employee at Tim-BR Mart, says this weekend the winds had really picked up and were blowing a lot of smoke in to town, and by Monday morning her car was covered in ash.

“I didn't think to close my window all the way,” she says, “the inside of my car is filled with ash.”

For the past week smoke, ash and a red-orange glow could be seen in Ashcroft and residents have been taking a lot of pictures while several residents with breathing issues have been aggravated by the smokey conditions.

Fear a fire would once again destroy downtown Ashcroft has passed for many as the fire finally appears to be moving away from town. People have been talking about the fires that destroyed downtown Ashcroft in 1916 and 2001, the garden-centre employee says, and the one on the west side of the river in 2003 that destroyed a lot of reserve land has been on the minds of a lot of people too.

Sunday evening was very scary, she says, everyone knows everyone else in town, and it was hard to see people she knows get evacuated.

Thompson Nicola Regional District information officer Mike Garrett says by mid-morning Monday only 20 people of the estimated 125-150 people affected by an evacuation order had registered at the reception centre in Cache Creek.

“There will be people who will stay behind, and people who will go straight to friends or family (without registering,)” Garrett notes, “but we hope everyone will register, it lets us know you're safe.”

One structure – believed to be an outbuilding - has been destroyed by the fire and 50 residences are within the danger zone of the fire and have been evacuated as of Sunday night.

Volunteer fire crews from Ashcroft were on hand Sunday in case provincial fire crews needed help but have done little else so far. They, like much of the town, are on standby one volunteer fire fighter said.

The Spatsum Creek fire is one of four fires burning in the Kamloops region and has 110 fire fighters, six helicopters and seven pieces of heavy equipment on scene. Hwy 97C between Ashcroft and the Highland Valley Mine overpass has been closed as crews deal with the fire.

The Kamloops Fire Centre was not aware of any threat to utilities in the area.

To contact a reporter for this story, email jstahn@infotelnews.ca of call (250) 819-3723.

Helicopters flying over Ashcroft have been a normal sight over the past two weeks due to the Spatsum Creek wildfire south of the village.
Helicopters flying over Ashcroft have been a normal sight over the past two weeks due to the Spatsum Creek wildfire south of the village.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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